I have always enjoyed being silly. Goofiness comes naturally to me and as long as I can remember I’ve had a knack for making people laugh. Add to that the fact that in the fourth grade (age 8 or 9) I can distinctly remember having the thought that girls liked funny guys, and from then on humour was my thing. In school I was never malicious or mean, but I got in trouble a lot for annoying the teachers by constantly getting my classes off track with a steady supply of well timed farts, songs and stupid jokes. As you can imagine people would tell me that I should do stand up comedy, and I would just smile and nod, having no idea what that really meant or how that would happen.
Later on while watching a video of a young and seemingly glowing Robin Williams live at the Roxy I saw what stand up comedy not only was, but could be. At the end of a long and hilarious set Robin went and put on an over coat and started to act like himself 40 years down the road. He hunched over feeding the make believe birds, and in-between jokes gave a bit of life advice that still strikes a chord deep within me, and that I immediately knew to be the truth: “You are only given a little spark of madness. If you lose that, you’re nothing.” With that I fell in love with stand up comedy as an art form, and began dreaming of trying it myself one day.
Making the transition from a lover and connoisseur of comedy, to actually getting on stage and performing it, is different for everybody. It can be an ugly process that is not for the feint of heart, and not recommended for most decent people. After I had graduated High school I decided it was finally time to give it a try. The one and only comedy club in the city of Denver had a waitlist for newbies, and getting on stage there meant you either had to know someone, or be patient. My name was on the list, but there was no reason to believe that I was going to get any stage time so I kept my eyes peeled for other places to perform.
One day while skipping a college class with a buddy downtown I noticed the Mercury Cafe, a quaint and quirky little place that had an open mic night where anyone could call and put their name on the list and perform. It wasn’t exactly ideal, but it would certainly do, so I started working on some bits and spread the word among friends that I was finally getting on stage.
On the day of the open mic I was buzzing with nervous energy and excitement. Because I was too nervous to be myself on stage, I came up with a bit where I was a beatnik poet that slowly crescendoed into a rousing rendition of “Highway to the Danger Zone” that I sang while playing bongo drums. That day crawled by and I eagerly awaited for night to fall and have my big debut.
When I arrived at the cafe that evening there were some performers huddled by the bar and a few people that could loosely be called an audience, but that was it. My buddy and I took a seat and ordered some sandwiches while we waited for more people to show up. Thankfully several friends were on their way, so the size of the audience wasn’t a big deal and I could sit back and relax before I went up. After a little while the place started to fill and I saw several friendly faces finding seats. The show started rather unceremoniously with a soft spoken emcee that was obviously unaware of the magnitude of the evening at hand. After several readings, a couple of poems and a girl that played the flute, my name was finally called and at last the stage was mine.
The feeling of getting in front of people and making them laugh was even better than I had anticipated. The few strangers smiled and shook my hand as I left the stage and I swelled with happiness. The audience never did end up filling in, but my small group of friends were there, and that was all I needed to feel like I had discovered a whole new magical world, and my life would never be the same.
Notes on Author and Illustrator
Eric at The Thoughtful Beggar is another one of our trusted bloggers, who has been there for us on our blogging journey. His blog is full of wise posts that take the reader on both a philosophical and spiritual journey; opening our hearts and minds to the possibility of a living a deep and meaningful life. His blog is definitely a great place to hang out. We recommend you check it out. You can also follow Eric on all his socials; Twitter @thoughfulbeg. Instagram here.
All illustrations provided throughout #MyFirstTime are original, bespoke works of Monty Vern. Monty has also
created “My First Time…Behind the Scenes” – a companion series to My First Time. In this exclusive series Monty allows us to take a walk through his mind when creating images for ‘My First Time’. A collaboration in every sense, when you get a glimpse into the inner workings of a creatives mind! Keep up with the whole series by following T.B.C and Monty Vern.